Friday, May 18, 2007

Blogging Kennewick.

On April 19th, I had the opportunity to speak about teen advisory boards at the Washington Library Association’s meeting in Kennewick, Washington. I decided to leave home early on Wednesday, the 18th, enjoy a quiet evening in Kennewick to prepare my speech and then drive home after the presentation late Thursday night, the 19th. Nearly everything worked without a hitch. Except for the whole speech part, that is.

For those of you not familiar with Washington State, Kennewick is about 230 miles, south east of Seattle. I took the opportunity to take a little drive in the beautiful Evergreen State. The route took me through Snoqualmie Pass, where it was snowing. Driving over the pass also gave me a whole new idea of the phrase “as pure as the driven snow” , as the snow that has been driven on is not really all that pure looking.

I took a side trip to look at the lovely scenery at Lake Easton State Park . There was some snow on the ground in the park, but this was actually clean and tasted decent.

I stopped in lovely downtown Vader (real name, no joke.) to have lunch. I looked for a guy named Darth, but no luck. Mmmm, fatty burgers from a greasy spoon fuel your drive in a different yet equally important way as gasoline does. I can feel the arteries hardening as I speak (or write).

After lunch, I drove on until I saw a sign for a Manastash Ridge Viewpoint . It was right above the Yakima Valley. It was a beautiful look at the valley and a little wind farm as well.

After leaving the viewpoint, I proceeded to the Red Lion Inn located in glorious Kennewick. I had a lovely room, which, strangely, had a bathroom that was the twice the size of the rest of the “suite”. I dropped my stuff off and decided to explore the area to figure out where the convention center was located. It turned out to be a short walk from the hotel, which was convenient. Sadly, there was no espresso on the walk there. (Not to worry, there was one close by.)

As I was walking to the center, I saw Darlene, a friend from KCLS. She was carrying some boxes in, so I helped out. Once inside, I realized that they were setting up for a party , specifically the opening ceremonies. I also took the time to get my name tag and my mug (The mug was a gift for speaking. They probably paid too much.) Milling about during the reception, I started chitchatting with others at the convention. After many of the people I was talking to asked what it was that I was presenting on, I had to ask how they knew I was presenting. Finally someone pointed out that on my badge it said “Presenter”. Clever librarians.

The next day I finished putting the final touches on my speech and went to get my handouts printed up and then I had a tasty lunch at the neighboring Carl’s Jr. (Yum.). After my gut busting meal, I headed over to the convention center to hit the exhibits. The exhibits only took about 20 minutes since there were only about 30 booths to look at. It took me so long to visit the exhibits because while I was getting a free folding Frisbee, all of my colleagues were having a free lunch in the ballroom. (Note to self: Read the program brochure so you stop missing the free stuff.) So, during this somewhat self-imposed solitary speech sharpening, I sat in a corner and organized my notes.

Once the other conference goers were finished with lunch, they found me and demanded that I tell them my secrets of teen advisory boards. Or something like that. My speech was part of a presentation called Teen Triangle, the focus of which was to discuss ways to get teens involved in libraries. Kate Sellers from Seattle and Lisa Oldoski from Puyallup, also spoke on their teen programs. They have some great ideas that I’m excited about trying out. My speech, sadly, didn’t go that well. For example, I inadvertently left out a major point on communication. I also didn't bring my trademark energy or excitement. I guess I left my A-game back at the hotel or in my other pair of pants. Or maybe it was that I was wearing a tie. Or, due to the fact that I was recording myself, perhaps I was suffering from some type of observer effect . Or maybe I should have turned the lights up. In any event, I think it could have gone better. But you can judge for yourself by listening here (You may have to download it onto your computer to listen the whole thing.). You can also see my wonderful handout.

After my speech, I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to Gaye’s speech on Graphic Novels and children. Good stuff. Very enlightening. And I won a free comic . Sweet. Questions about how good comics can be for kids? Check out their handout.

Afterwards I was fortunate enough to go to the iSchool cocktail party. I chatted with people for a few mintues, but left by about 7pm because I had to drive home that night.

Luckily, I was able to find some carpool buddies. They were Snickers, Pringles, Swedish fish and Starbucks. They were quiet, but a good group nonetheless. I picked up a few more friends at a truck stop just outside of Ellensburg. Like a nice tall drink of Pepsi and a Cadbury Creme Egg. Surprisingly, I made it home without getting sick.

I rolled in to the garage about midnight and was met by a bleary eyed Gail and a couple of softly snoring kids. In the end, it was an exciting adventure filled with excitement, education and a touch of hubris. It was definitely a great learning experience and I hope to tell millions of others about teen advisory boards.